“Okay” is the only word you’ll hear—once—during The Disappearance of Alice Creed’s first, ominous ten minutes. Before that, you’ll have watched two thugs (Compston and Happy-Go-Lucky’s Marsan) soundproofing a nondescript room, installing several extra locks and lining the back of their van with plastic. Then, with the serious home improvement finished and the verbal cue given, they take into custody a squirming, hooded woman (Bond girl Arterton), quickly stripped bare and chained spread-eagle to the room’s bed.
Crisply and efficiently, we’re transported to the realm of the kidnapping thriller—and if Brit writer-director J Blakeson knew how to sustain tension for another hour and change, we’d be heralding the next Jonathan “Sexy Beast” Glazer. But gums start flapping and out come revelations that only the slowest of viewers won’t see coming. (Ruining even these meager pleasures would be cruel.) As the tougher of the two criminals, Marsan does countless riffs on a menacing glare, and Arterton is always a treat to look at. Yet Compston, a thin presence, can’t sustain intrigue, especially when his character’s allegiance becomes a turning point. Alice Creed never falls into sarcastic cheek, so credit Blakeson with maturity. Still, it takes more to pin viewers to seats than sash cords and tough talk.—Joshua Rothkopf
Watch the trailer